Happy 5771 L’Shana Tova

The Kosher Wine Rub from Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe just in time for and for Rosh Hashana & Yom Kipper   

What is it exactly that makes a wine kosher? A kosher wine is one handled only by Sabbath-observant Jews-those individuals who observe kosher dietary laws. In addition, kosher winemakers are forbidden to use any products, such as unauthorized yeasts or animal-based fining agents, that might fall outside the parameters of kosher convention and thus compromise the ritual essence of the wine.

Yet aside from the individuals who are permitted to come in contact with the wine or grape juice, there is no difference between the techniques used to make a kosher wine and a non-kosher wine. That is unless the kosher wine is designated mevushal, perhaps the most misunderstood term in the kosher wine tradition.

Literally speaking, “mevushal” means “boiled.” However, mevushal wines are not boiled in the literal sense of the word. They are heated to a temperature that meets the requirements of an overseeing rabbi, which admittedly is pretty high. The modern technique of making wine Mevushal is to run the “must” quickly through a heat flash pasteurizing unit where the wine is quickly heated to at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit.                                              

For Sabbath-observant Jews, kosher wine is holy in nature. But after a kosher wine has been ritually heated to become mevushal, it is less sensitive to ritual exclusions. A mevushal wine can be handled (or poured) by a non-kosher Jew or even a non-Jew and still retain its kosher integrity. As a result, mevushal wines are far more practical to serve in kosher dining establishments where non-kosher staff may attend to kosher dinner guests.

By contrast, a non-mevushal-or non-heated-kosher wine remains highly sensitive to religious custom in both the production stage and after bottling. A bottle of non-mevushal wine may not be opened or served to Sabbath-observant Jews by anyone other than equally observant Jewish individuals.

The rub for me with mevushal wines, it’s that heating a wine to a high temperature does not usually improve its sensory qualities. Under such conditions, heated wines can take on a sweet, maderized taste or even a burned, rubbery edge.

So here are our selectionso of un-heated non mevushal wines for the holiday’s

Teperberg Family Estate Meritage, Judean Hills, 2007                                                                                                                                                      The Meritage from the Teperberg Reserve series is an exceptional wine, blended in the “noble” Bordeaux traditional style, using the Ella Valley grapes. This Meritage is a blend of the classic Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France and Petit Verdot. While most wines are named after a single varietal, Meritage wines represent the highest form of the winemaker’s art of blending. This Meritage has a rich fruity character of cherry and blackberry with overtones of oak and is full bodied with a well balanced structure.

Teperberg Family Estate Reserve Cabernet, Judean Hills 2006                                                                                                        Dark toward inky-garnet, full-bodied, reflecting its 15 months in oak with gentle spices and a hint of smoke, with once firm tannins now settling in and fine balance with wood and fruits. On the nose and palate an appealing array of spicy currant, blackberry, cedar and mineral notes, those light hints of anise and cigar tobacco on the long and generous finish.

Binyanina Yogev Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2007        The Yogev label (Yogev means “worker of the land”, farmer), which reflects the contribution of dedicated winegrowers, toilers of the soil, to the quality wine that is the outcome of a process that begins in the vineyards.  Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) from the vineyard of Eli Heyman in Karmei Yosef.   Merlot (50%) from the vineyard of Dror Eliraz in Moshav Lachish (both Samson Area). The wine reveals typical fruit aromas with hints of red fruit scents, is slightly jammy and seasoned with a pinch evergreen. A medium bodied, complex and richly flavored wine that is ready to drink now.

 

Barkan Altitude Series Cabernet Sauvignon 720 2007                                                                                                                                                      This regal purple and black Cabernet Sauvignon from the Altitude series is derived from the vineyard on Mt. Godrim on the Lebanese border (720 meters above sea level) to achieve its cool climate aroma of eucalyptus, mint, and coffee, with tastes of cherries, cassis, herbs, and a hint of tobacco. Aged for twelve months in French oak casks. Cabernet Sauvignon 720 displays a powerful and elegant finish.

YatirCabernet/Shiraz/Merlot 2006                                                                                                                                                                                                  A blend of 35% Merlot, 24% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Typically, this wine has three principal grapes, listed in order, and some supporting characters. The order tends to change from year to year. This year’s version is rather light in the mid-palate, but well focused and rather suave with ripe tannins providing some grip on the finish. It has a sunny demeanor and a sort of sweet ‘n’ herbal medley of flavors.

 

 

Capcanes Peraj Haabib Petita, Montsant 2007–                                                                                                                                                                    Medium ruby with flucks of violet; fresh, seductive aromas of red berries and cherry; loads of red fruits in taste; crispy and ripe, concentrated and well balanced but not over-powered; very Garnacha in character and mineral in taste. Medium finish with crispy but soft tannins Rich and powerful fruit of very old indigenous Garnacha bush vines coupled with the structure of black, muscular Carinena and deeply concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon makes this an amazingly full bodied and unique wine.

Capanes Peraj Haabib, Montsant 2008                                                                                                                                                                                          Our most amazing kosher wine, at least that’s what the Wolfepack feels.  The wine is incredibly dark in color with a fabulous black cherry, chocolate and floral nose. In the mouth, the Peraj Ha’abib showed medium fine tannins, fresh acidity and a round mouthfeel, ebbing to a long, lush dark spice and red fruit finish. Definitely a fun wine, and worthy of all the accolades.

7 requirements that must be followed in order to produce a Kosher wine.

  1. According to the practice known as orla, the grapes of new vines cannot be used for winemaking until the fourth year of planting.
  2. No other fruits or vegetables may be grown in between the rows of the vines (kalai hakerem)
  3. After the first harvest, the field must lie fallow every seventh year. Each of these sabbatical years is known as shnat shmita.
  4. From the onset of the harvest, only kosher tools and storage facilities may be used in the winemaking process, and all of the winemaking equipment must be cleaned [sometimes up to 7 times with hot water] to be certain that no foreign objects remain in the equipment or vats.
  5. From the moment the grapes reach the winery, only Sabbath observant [male] Jews are allowed to come in contact with the wine.
  6. All of the materials (e.g. yeasts) used in the production and clarification of the wines must be certified as kosher.
  7. A symbolic amount of wine, representing the tithe (truma vama’aser) once paid to the Temple in Jerusalem must be poured away from the tanks or barrels in which the wine is being made.
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